Major broadband upgrade to benefit thousands of rural homes and businesses

Project Gigabit sets to help hard-to-reach communities access more reliable broadband across Leicestershire

Lightning-fast broadband will be delivered to tens of thousands of Leicestershire and Warwickshire homes and businesses after a £71 million contract was signed under the government’s national Project Gigabit rollout. 

Independent broadband provider Cityfibre will deliver top-of-the-range full fibre connections to around 38,000 rural premises in the counties which, without government intervention, would have missed out on the industry’s rollout of faster, more reliable ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband. 

Full fibre is capable of delivering speeds of up to 1,000 megabits (or one gigabit) per second - up to 30 times faster than superfast connections which rely on traditional copper cables. Gigabit speeds mean households can download a high-definition film in under one minute, stream and download entertainment and shop online across several different devices at once. 

The upgrades will help grow the economy and create jobs by making it easier to set up and grow a business, and mean rural Leicestershire and Warwickshire communities will have access to networks designed to meet people’s needs for decades to come as the demand for fast connections continues to rise. 

Rural communities across the counties will benefit, including those in or surrounding Bosworth, Charnwood, Harborough, Kenilworth and Southam, Loughborough, Meriden, North Warwickshire, North Leicestershire, Rugby, Rushcliffe, Rutland and Melton, South Leicestershire, Stratford-on-avon and Warwick and Leamington. 

Now the contract is signed, Cityfibre will begin detailed surveying work with spades expected to enter the ground from the summer. 
The contract is one of several announced today as part of a £453 million commitment to delivering next-generation broadband to around 236,000 hard-to-reach homes and businesses across England. 

More than £1 billion in contracts have now been awarded through Project Gigabit to connect around 677,000 homes and businesses, with tens of millions of pounds worth of additional contracts to be awarded across the country in the coming weeks. 

The UK is building gigabit networks faster than any country in the EU, thanks in part to government measures to stimulate competition and bust barriers to rollout. Last month the government announced that gigabit coverage had reached 80 per cent of the UK, up from just 6 per cent in 2019, and the UK is on track to achieve 85 per cent by 2025. 

As a result of this investment, CityFibre has committed to offer 40 apprenticeships - a minimum of eight per year - across the UK in telecoms and highways maintenance for the duration of the contract, giving young people the chance to develop vital new skills and build a rewarding career. It comes as the country marks National Apprenticeship Week, a government-led campaign celebrating the impact apprentices make to communities, businesses, and the wider economy.

The rollout of Project Gigabit is overseen by Building Digital UK (BDUK) - an executive agency of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).  
Data and Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Tens of thousands of rural homes and businesses from Harborough to Stratford-on-avon will soon be connected to the fastest broadband speeds on the market. Thanks to government’s Project Gigabit. Communities are a big step closer to enjoying next-level connectivity, supporting our mission to unlock opportunity and fuel growth.” 
CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch said: “We’re thrilled CityFibre has been selected to deliver government’s Project Gigabit programme in Leicestershire & Warwickshire, bringing the benefits of full fibre connectivity to thousands of hard-to-reach homes and businesses that have so far been left behind. 
“The rollout builds on our significant existing footprint in the region and thanks to Project Gigabit, we’ll be expanding our commercial build even further to include thousands more homes and businesses.” 

It’s great news that more Leicestershire homes and businesses will now be able to access increased speed and reliable broadband through Project Gigabit. 
Faster broadband will improve the day-to-day lives of our communities and businesses, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas of the county, enabling access to a variety of services such as banking, education and health, as well as improving connectivity and productivity for business operations.

Councillor Pam Posnett , lead member for digital


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